Playoff Performer of the Night | Alex Ovechkin

A man on a mission, Alex Ovechkin helped send the Washington Capitals to their second Stanley Cup Final, and first in his 13-season tenure, with an early goal that stood as the game-winner in a 4-0 blanking of the Tampa Bay Lightning Wednesday night.

A man on a mission, Alex Ovechkin helped send the Washington Capitals to their second Stanley Cup Final, and first in his 13-season tenure, with an early goal that stood as the game-winner in a 4-0 blanking of the Tampa Bay Lightning Wednesday night.

"I'm emotional right now," Ovechkin confessed postgame. "We've been waiting for this moment for a long time."

The captain was understandably emotional as reality sunk in. Made all the more outstanding, Washington overcame huge odds to successfully stave off elimination for three straight games after opening the series with a pair of road wins. Ever since eliminating the perennial postseason thorn in the Capitals’ side – getting past the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round – Ovechkin seems to have elevated his already impressive game.

''I think Ovi has been on a mission,'' Capitals coach Barry Trotz told reporters spoke to his captain, and team's performance when all was said and done. ''They wanted this game, no question.''

No. 8 lit the lamp just 1:02 into the opening frame for the 58th goal of his NHL postseason career in 116 playoff games – an average of 0.50 goals per game in Stanley Cup Playoffs action, which is good for ninth overall in NHL history (among players with 100 or more GP). The goal was also his 12th of this postseason, a mark that leads his team, while his 22 points rank second among all NHL scorers this spring behind only teammate Evgeny Kuznetsov’s 24 points.


''The first goal was very important,'' Ovechkin said of his game-winner while praising teammate Braden Holtby, who posted his second straight shutout in net with the team facing elimination. ''After that you could see we have all the momentum on our side. Holts was unstoppable today. He was special. Everybody was all in. Everybody was sacrificing their bodies. I think we all deserve the win.''

Holtby turned aside all 29 shots he faced and Andre Burakovsky scored a pair of goals for his first and second of this postseason, while while Nicklas Backstrom put away an empty-netter to seal the 4-0 win.

The Capitals will face the Vegas Golden Knights, who have home-ice advantage in the Stanley Cup Final, which gets underway Monday at T-Mobile Arena.


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Complete 2018 Stanley Cup Playoff Performers here